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tell me about ration balancers

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  • tell me about ration balancers

    Quick history...when I got my horse he had regular bouts of gas colic.
    Over the years I have experimented with his diet and he is now on a small amount of plain oats supplied by the barn. I add Nutrena XTN, a little additional beet pulp, BOSS, some nutritional yeast, and Wellpride.
    I have gradually (over a couple of years) been reducing his overall grain and increasing the fat.
    I would like to feed no grain at all, but he doesn't stay in good condition with no grain. He was turned out for nearly a year and ate only hay, beet pulp and BOSS and was in wonderful condition with great feet, but when he was brought back into work he could not maintain his body condition without grain. That's when he started on XTN and he looks great on it.
    I am just interested in any possibility of reducing his grains even more without losing his condition. Plus I have to drive a very long way to get Nutrena so I am looking at options.
    I am going to cut out the straight oats that the barn feeds, no matter what else I do. We just moved to this barn 4 months ago and it seemed like an ok idea to let them feed some of his grain, it gets expensive paying for boarding and then substituting all your own food.
    I don't know much about ration balancers and other than advertising telling me how great they are and I have trouble finding info.
    A Buckeye dealer found a food that is nearly identical to XTN (Cadence) and suggested that I consider a ration balancer if I want to cut down on total grain. Buckeye, of course, makes ration balancers. Nutrena does not.
    Any and all information is appreciated.
    Nina's Story
    Epona Comm on FB

  • #2
    I have most of my horses on Buckeye's ration balancer, Gro N Win and love it. I have mostly warmbloods--broodmares, young horses, and mature horses, and all do well on it. It gives you all the protein, vitamins and minerals a horse needs while giving them minimal grain. Most of my guys get a pound to two pounds a day, only the broodies get more when they are at the end of their pregnancy and during lactation. I think it's great stuff. My husband had this bright idea that his Thoroughbred gelding liked sweet feed and should have that instead; he pretty much immediately lost condition after stopping the Gro N Win even though he was eating much more sweet feed than ration balancer. Now Hubbie has decided Gro N Win is better and just gives his boy a little sweet feed as a treat.
    Last edited by Clarion; Jan. 28, 2007, 04:34 PM.
    www.heartofgoldfarm.com

    RIP "Rio" (BW-Clarion) 2000-2009. Bright Spirit, Brave Heart, Loving Soul. I'll love and miss you forever.

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    • #3
      Definitely check up with Buckeye. My feed company over here does the same products as Buckeye and I wouldn't use anything else. For Calories you can use Ultimate Finish. Yes, it's expensive, but you would only need 2 coffee mugs per day mixed with some GNW for all his vit's and mins. My company also makes a product called Lo Cal. The best thing going for lamanitic horses or really good doers. My husband has an ID and you literally can't feed him anything because he gains 150pds. He gets 1 1/2 coffee mugs am and pm and nothing else besides hay. He has a great shine and stays really healthy. Husband thinks I'm cruel, but better that than a horse that founders. All my horses love the Buckeye foods as well and their balancers are easy to use.
      Good Luck
      Terri
      COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

      "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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      • #4
        We can't get Buckeye where I am but can get TDI30. I checked the tags and they are pretty identical so have been using it for about a year. I absolutely love it!!!! You just add oats if you need more feed in them than the complete feed recommendation. I breed warmbloods and have a few misc. others and everyone does great on it.
        www.lazyjsporthorses.com

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        • #5
          I have used a locally milled ration balancer, Horse Sense, and just love it. It works very well with my horses and has eliminated the need for supplements.
          Where Norwegian Fjords Rule
          http://www.ironwood-farm.com

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          • #6
            I use TDI10, which is like TDI30 only lower protein. My horses do very well on it.

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            • #7
              My coming 4 year old airfern is on Progressive Grass Formula Diet Balancer and is doing great on it. For a horse who needs a bit more help you can add oats to the mix. Progressive also has a Hi-Fat Balancer and a alfalfa formula. All balancers are designed to fee alone or with oats depending on the horse. I love the line and am actually in the process of transitioning my TB mare to it as well. There is a higher initial cost, but less overall expense since you feed less. As for the Buckeye balancer, yep, that is a good one as well! Definitely worth a try. I think you'll be pleased with the results! For extra fat, you can always try adding Buckeye's Ultimate Finish as well to the balancer. I had pretty good luck using the Ultimate Finish 40 which is pellet. Buckeye also makes an Ultimate Finish 100 which is powder.
              Sorry for any spelling errors or breaks in thought process.... I'm fighting a cat who wants to sit on my laptop keyboard AND bathe me.
              *bad shoulder clique * Member of "OMGiH, I loff my Mare" Clique! * Proud owner of a CANTER Cutie!
              My Horses; COMH Page; My Blog

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              • #8
                I have my girls on Purina's "Mare and Maintenance", which is a LOW (relatively--12%) protein ration balancer, unlike most of the traditional ones that are 20-35% protein. The reason is that this year's hay crop was unbelievably good and my hay is very high in protein already.

                What I like about them is really their intended purpose: meet a horse's needs for things such as protein, lysine, essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals WITHOUT having to feed 5 or 6 pounds of something a day. Most of the nutrition needs my girls have is being met by the hay--the RB just makes sure there are no "holes". I also feed a cupful of rice bran pellets for the fat and "shine"...I have used plain flaxseed for a long time and like it very much, but it's hard to get them to eat 2 cups of it when I only feed 1/2 or 3/4 pounds of pellets! I have gotten totally away from beet pulp, oats, etc...not because I don't like them as feeds, but because they're simply unnecessary right now. Gwen is 20 years old this spring and has held her weight and "shine" beautifully this winter on 3/4 pound of the Mare & Maintenance a day plus a cupful of rice bran and the hay. NO supplements, nothing else added and she looks as good as she ever did on SmartPaks, Ultium, beet pulp, oats, etc. etc. etc.

                The cost is something fabulous, too...for the same price as one bag of Ultium (about $15) which lasts about 10 days I can buy 50 pounds of M&M and feed all 3 of my girls for almost 6 weeks. About a pound and a quarter a day feeds the 2 big mares and a Shetland pony.

                IMO you really need to know what your needs are before choosing a ration balancer...but then again I believe that's true for ALL feeds. You can save so much money just feeding what they need and ditching the extras.

                Buckeye's website has a lot of really good information on balancing a ration, etc...even if you don't buy their products, it's still useful to read the labels and compare products. I actually like Buckeye's stuff a lot, but the local feed store is a Purina place...
                Click here before you buy.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                  ...The cost is something fabulous, too...for the same price as one bag of Ultium (about $15) which lasts about 10 days I can buy 50 pounds of M&M and feed all 3 of my girls for almost 6 weeks. About a pound and a quarter a day feeds the 2 big mares and a Shetland pony.
                  ...Buckeye's website has a lot of really good information on balancing a ration, etc...even if you don't buy their products, it's still useful to read the labels and compare products. I actually like Buckeye's stuff a lot, but the local feed store is a Purina place...
                  Ditto the entire post above! As for the Ultium.... my TB mare that I'm transitioning over to Progressive is on Ultium and Strategy. Cost per bag is a little higher than stated above. She generally goes thru 4 1/2 bags of Ultium and 4 bags of Strategy per month. My feed bill for this one mare alone is roughly $130 per month and that doesn't even include her supplements. With Progressive my daily feed ration for this mare will decrease to only a scoop per feeding (as compared to 2 to 2 1/2 scoops per feeding!). MUCH better on the finances!
                  *bad shoulder clique * Member of "OMGiH, I loff my Mare" Clique! * Proud owner of a CANTER Cutie!
                  My Horses; COMH Page; My Blog

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                  • #10
                    A ration balancer is good to get nutrition without a lot of calories. If you are looking to get calories because he can't maintain weight in work, then you'll need more. A rb is meant to be fed in the 1-2lb range, usually in the 1000cal/lb range. I'm not clear on what his current diet is - oats, XTN, and hay? And you're lookin to cut out the oats and XTN?

                    The rb will replace the nutrition from the XTN and the oats - how much depends on how much of those 2 things you were feeding. Depending on the rb you choose, you may still be lacking in certain amino acids. Replace "ration balancer" with "vitamin/mineral supplement" and you need to find out the same information. Most rb's and vit/min supplements have all the amino acids, but some contain low levels, and some contain aa's from poor sources so you don't get enough anyway.

                    For the extra calories it sounds like he needs, look at alfalfa pellets, boss, and rice bran - particularly the boss and rice bran to get more fat into him.
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      ok, so here is what I'm thinking.

                      I want to eliminate the plain oats. Feed the Buckeye balancer for grass at the recommended amount. Make up the difference in calories that he needs with either Buckeye Cadence or Nutrena XTN. Add fat in the form of BOSS, add a prepared fat supplement if necessary.

                      If I can pretty much stabilize the amounts to keep him in good condition in normal work, I don't mind adding beet pulp in the winter for more cals.

                      Does this sound good or am I missing something?

                      I know Progressive lays out a plan for ration balancers and feed but I tried Progressive before I tried Nutrena and after a couple of months on it he looked like a case for rescue. For some reason it just did not agree with him. Other horses in the barn on the same feed looked fabulous.

                      The high fat XTN is the only thing that has worked for him.....I just would still like to feed less grain.
                      Nina's Story
                      Epona Comm on FB

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                      • #12
                        BarbB, why are you under the impression that Nutrena doesn't make ration balancers??? What are these: http://www.nutrenaworld.com/Screens/...spx?BrandID=64 ????

                        Granted, they don't look like the world's best mixes, but they are in the ballpark! The "Milk Plus" looks like the best and would probably serve your horse well since he doesn't hold his weight. I would also add additional Lysine, an amino acid, to his diet as weight loss is a sign of Lysine deficiency. Lysine is one amino acid that cannot be manufactured by the horse, it has to be supplemented. And I would probably add a good probiotic to the diet as well, one that has several strains of bacteria and yeast. I read somewhere that adding a probiotic can increase a horse's ability to utilize its feed up to 20%!

                        Good luck!
                        I'm not much into conspiracy theories, but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot....

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                        • #13
                          I can't seem to find a ration balancer in my area, so I made my own. Does anyone else do this? Mine is comprised mostly of soy, with milled flax, and a scoop of multi vitamins. This is fed to our two 8 month old warmbloods, one who came to us with physitis in her knees. They are on free choice tim/broam mix. The physitis seems to be going down, but very slowly. Driving me crazy, but I really don't know what else to do?

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by IronwoodFarm View Post
                            I have used a locally milled ration balancer, Horse Sense, and just love it. It works very well with my horses and has eliminated the need for supplements.
                            I am a recent convert and LOFF the stuff. ALL my boys and girls are on it...and I like the way my two pregnant girls look, especially! There's nothing like HS!

                            Chicki, FYI Purina makes one called Born to Win. I used it for almost a year as Buckeye was too much of a hike. My mare did very well on it. A lot of the manufacturers seem to be getting into Ration Balancers too. You might check your favorite mill.

                            Oh, and as far as the cost goes,...IMHO it is very competitive. Dollar for dollar I think you get much more.
                            "For God hates utterly
                            The bray of bragging tongues."
                            Sophocles, Antigone Spoken by the Leader of the Chorus of Theban Elders

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                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by Cherry View Post
                              BarbB, why are you under the impression that Nutrena doesn't make ration balancers??? What are these: http://www.nutrenaworld.com/Screens/...spx?BrandID=64 ????

                              Granted, they don't look like the world's best mixes, but they are in the ballpark! The "Milk Plus" looks like the best and would probably serve your horse well since he doesn't hold his weight. I would also add additional Lysine, an amino acid, to his diet as weight loss is a sign of Lysine deficiency. Lysine is one amino acid that cannot be manufactured by the horse, it has to be supplemented. And I would probably add a good probiotic to the diet as well, one that has several strains of bacteria and yeast. I read somewhere that adding a probiotic can increase a horse's ability to utilize its feed up to 20%!

                              Good luck!

                              My understanding, please correct me if I am wrong, is that these supplements are vitamins, minerals and a few other things and supposed to be added to the existing diet to round it out and ensure optimum nutrition. This is what a Nutrena dealer told me.

                              The ration balancers I have been looking at are a concentrated high protein, plus vitamins etc pelleted feed and are designed to replace a significant portion of the diet in order to feed less grain. The Buckeye one is soy based for the protein instead of grain based. Also contains some alfalfa.

                              If I've got that wrong then I am totally confused.
                              Nina's Story
                              Epona Comm on FB

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                              • #16
                                I don't know--I'm not into semantics.... I use Pennfield All-Phase Grain Balancer pellet that has an alfalfa base, I forget the actual percentage of protein--I think it's 32%. Regardless, the rep told me I only need to feed half a pound of it per day, which isn't a lot to my thinking so that high protein doesn't seem like it would make that much of a difference overall in my horse's diet.

                                What I do know is if you're not feeding any feed (just forage), feeding straight grain or feeding less than the recommended amount of a feed then the horse needs a supplement of some sort with vitamins and minerals (and whatever else the company throws in--mine also contains some probiotics and fat), regardless of what it's called.....
                                I'm not much into conspiracy theories, but if everyone thinks alike you don't need a plot....

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                                • #17
                                  I agree with JB. Your horse needs calories. Ration balancers are designed for easy keepers that are not able to eat enough to get the needed proteins, vitamins and minerals or they will get too fat.

                                  Why not feed the grain? Low carb is for again, super easy keepers. It is a DIET. It is a fad diet, that many nutritionists do NOT agree with.

                                  If you really want to avoid the grain that will be a balanced diet, then you have to provide calories plus the needed nutrients that your horse will be missing. If you don't want to do the math for each nutrient, then that is a commercial feed, or a ration balancer + whole grain (oats, barley, corn - depending on how much you want to spend) to maintain weight. With a ration balancer, you may need to add 5, 10, or even 15 lbs of oats per day. About half that of corn. Somewhere in between for barley. Think of a ration balancer as your horse's one-a-day pill, not food.

                                  What I have had success with for my hard keeping mares is soaked alfalfa hay cubes. If you use that, you will still be missing needed nutrients. Again, you have to do the math - including having your hay analyzed, so you know what each pound of that is providing, and what is still needed per day.

                                  The Progressive nutritionist is who created the Buckeye program. Not a surprise for the horse to look bad if you tried to use that without the grain to provide the calories.

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    I'm not sure what is not clear here. I have not said that I want to eliminate grain. In fact I have said several times that I know that he will need grain to maintain condition.
                                    I am looking into the possibility of REDUCING the amount of grain that he needs because he is a colic risk and replacing PART of it with something else without compromising nutrition. Right now I replace some with added fat. I think there is a limit to how far I can go with that because it is also reducing the nutrition that he gets from grain.
                                    I am interested in hearing about the feeds labelled Ration Balancers that are supposed to be able to replace SOME of the grain that I feed and thereby reduce the bulk amount of grain and some of the starch.

                                    Thanks for all of the replies that helped with this information, I'm glad to hear that this does work, at least for some horses.
                                    Nina's Story
                                    Epona Comm on FB

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                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Fairview Horse Center View Post
                                      Why not feed the grain? Low carb is for again, super easy keepers. It is a DIET. It is a fad diet, that many nutritionists do NOT agree with.
                                      Low/no carb (starches, different from the carbs found in hay and other forage) is not a "diet" diet, it's not just for easy keepers, and whether or not "many nutritionists" agree with it, it's a reality for many horses. And, many OTHER nutritionists do agree with it Horses just aren't designed to eat the high amounts of sugars/starches (a form of carbohydrates) that are found in a large number of grain products, especially sweet feed. They aren't designed to eat the high NSC hays and grasses that are being grown for cattle. And many "easy keepers" are Insulin Resistant or carb-intolerant horses who aren't easy keepers, they can be hard keepers, but they cannot have the starches to some degree - no grass for some, soaked hay for some, zero molasses/carrots/apples/etc for some.
                                      ______________________________
                                      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

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                                      • #20
                                        FHC,
                                        Agree totally on the too fat horses that just can't have much to eat. As per my post above, I have one of those draft/Tb crosses. We have a product over her called Lo Cal. Designed as a balancer for horses who need vits and mins and who can get some grain. Also desinged to be fed alone for easy easy keepers. The horse gets 1 1/2 coffe mugs am and pm and that's it. He gets all his vit's and mins and needs no grain unless in hard work. Being as he's my husband's horse, this doesn't happen often. He gets a large haynet with very small holes that he has to work to get. Also have a likit on a rope for him in case he's bored. That is it, no grass, dry lot turnout. It's the only way for him.
                                        Also, if you combine Ultimate Finish with the GNW you can give horses enough to live off of without the grain. We have a broodmare that goes off her food before and after foaling. She will only eat very small protions. When giving her this combination she is able to keep her nutrient level up as well as keep her calories going. My feed might be more expensive, but I feed less than the other brands I was using to keep my horses in shape and looking well, so it does cost less in the end.
                                        Terri
                                        COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

                                        "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.

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